How should we respond to the Cologne Sex Attacks?

Cologne Sex Attacks
Outside the main train station in Cologne, Germany, on New Year’s Eve. The police say they have received more than 90 complaints of robbery and sexual assault, including two accounts of rape, involving groups of men who surrounded young women in the crush of revelers. Credit Markus Boehm/DPA, via Associated Press

Cologne Sex Attacks

The news of what happened is in the public domain …

More than 100 women and girls have come forward with reports of sexual assault and robbery by gangs of men in the German city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve. 

Victims have described chaos outside the city’s main station, as the men carried out dozens of attacks with little apparent response from the authorities.

What makes Cologne shocking is the stunning silence concerning what actually happened at first. This was driven by a deep fear concerning any criticism of anything done by a Muslim or done by a migrant no matter how obnoxious it might be, and so a conspiracy of silence between both the media and the police took hold for a time.

There are a couple of important points here

  • First and foremost the rather obvious one, silence is not an option, and so trying to cover up was a really bad idea. It also creates a vacuum into which the right-wing will rush and attempt to leverage it all by instilling a deep fear of “them”.
  • Secondly, this is not about “all” Muslims, or “all” migrants, but rather is about the obnoxious behaviour of a few. The vast majority have not and will not behave like this.
  • Thirdly, a wholly inappropriate response is the attempt to blame the victims – “she was just asking for it because she was dressed like that” is not a valid response … ever.

Blame the Victims … really?

Yes really, because that is exactly what the Mayor of Cologne did …

Ms. Reker was being widely ridiculed by commentators and across social media for putting the onus on the victims of the attacks.

“It is always possible to keep a certain distance that is longer than an arm’s length,”

There needs to be a clear decisive stance against the Islamic position that women are objects to be possessed and need to be kept out of sight, and part of that is the need to also instill a recognition that men are 100% responsible for all their their actions and it should never be the responsibility of women to have to hide from the gaze of men or dress appropriately just in case the glimpse of some flesh should arouse some male.

It is of course true that many of those who carried out these crimes come from a culture where women are expected to remain hidden and covered, and that it is open season upon any who don’t, but many of those who do arrive as migrants are not coming to impose or continue such thinking, but are instead fleeing theocratic dictatorships and come because they want a better more open way of life, and will happily walk away from what they left behind.

That is the vast majority.

Unfortunately, there will also be a minority who bring a lot of cultural baggage with them and that is what needs to be addressed.

A nation that has fully grasped the core issue and gets it right has been Norway. They are running classes to educate the new arrivals on the topic …

Norway is teaching male refugees from conservative societies about Norwegian sexual norms and laws, to help them adapt to a country where women have greater freedoms, wear fewer clothes and walk alone in public.

A voluntary five-hour programme offered nationwide involves group discussions of sex and rape, and teaches that types of violence considered ‘honourable’ in some cultures are illegal and shameful in Norway.

Its manual says, “to force someone into sex is not permitted in Norway, even when you are married to that person.”

Some do truly get that “Silence” is not an option

Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim, is a chap who truly gets it, and so let’s let him have the last word here …

Yes, it is racist to suspect that all brown men who look like me are rapists. It is bigoted to presume that all Muslim men who share my faith advocate religiously justified rape. It is xenophobic to assume that all male refugees are sexual predators awaiting their chance to rape. But let me be absolutely clear: What will feed this racism, bigotry, and xenophobia even more is deliberately failing to report the facts as they stand. Doing so only encourages the populist right’s rallying cry against “the establishment.”

If liberals do not address such issues swiftly, with complete candor and courage, the far-right and anti-Muslim populist groups will get there first. They have been doing so for a while now.

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